Tag Archive | Dreams

Did You Call Me or Not?

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to become a published author before the age of forty. Never did I expect that dream to be such a thorn in my side.

Having grown up in a Christian home and coming to faith in Christ at a young age, I’ve long understood that God has a purpose for my life. That He has a calling for each of His children, and while the general calling looks the same—spread the life-giving news of love, forgiveness, and saving grace found in a relationship with Jesus Christ—He asks us to live it out in countless ways according to the unique gifts and talents He’s given us.

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Therein lay my problem. For over three decades, I have heard one story after another of writers feeling called by God to write, whether that was writing in general, or a specific book or series. But for me, I never felt called. I just knew I had a passion for it. On good days, I could write without worry, without second-guessing myself. On bad days, the doubts would creep in and I’d wonder if I was listening to my own selfish desires or if this passion was, in fact, from God. Oh, how I’ve wrestled with it. I’m sure you could find many posts on my blog under the “Writer’s Refuge” tab filled with my questioning, agonizing, pleading with the Lord to just tell me. Just tell me if You want me to write or not. I will give it up if You want me to.

Recently, one of my good friends and local writer buddies, Leah, started a new blog, justwriteinspire.com. Stoked for her, I visited the blog and clicked on the “About” page. The following is a little of what she had to say. (I’ve already shared this with her, so no worries I’m saying something that will hurt or offend her. 🙂 )

“While growing up, I never dreamed I would write. I wanted to be a singer and teacher–not an author.

“However…one day, a plot downloaded into my brain. I thought, someone should write that book. A year later, God planted an idea in my mind, ‘You write it.’ I fought the concept for years. I did not believe I could do it.

“God never gave up on me. He continued to whisper–over and over–‘You are a writer,’ until His words seeped, profoundly, into my heart and soul.”

~Leah, from justwriteinspire.com

At the time I read her words, the irony was not lost on me—how she had felt God’s calling in the area of writing when she hadn’t even been looking for it, while I had prayed for years and continued to question. But still, I smiled, genuinely happy for her.

Come the next day, dark thoughts had descended upon me, and I wasn’t smiling anymore.

I had planned to write that day after cleaning the bathrooms, but as I sprayed and scrubbed sinks and bathtubs, it occurred to me I didn’t have anything to write about. The characters in my two current WIPs weren’t talking, and I was plum out of ideas plot-wise. By the time I finished mopping the floors, I was a mental wreck. If I was supposed to write, why was it harder for me to make up stories than other writers? Maybe I was just fooling myself. Maybe I was a square peg trying to shove myself into a round hole.

So I cried. Hard. And I begged God to speak to me.

I. Needed. To. Know.

Did He want me to write or not?

In late March, I had been sharing my frustrations at Bible study about how my inner critic looks like Jesus, making it difficult for me to always know who’s talking: the critic or Jesus. Sitting beside me, one of my girlfriends promptly texted me this pic from Pinterest:

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I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it has been for me to see these differences written out so I can refer to them whenever I’m questioning the words inside my head. That day cleaning bathrooms, after reading how Leah had felt called to write her story, I remembered this picture and tried to reject the condemning, discouraging words rattling around inside my brain.

But I was weakening.

At last I fell across my bed, my chest aching in that deep way that makes you curl into a fetal position and sob from the core, sob without tears.

How?” I cried to God, glaring at the ceiling. “How can I fight these negative feelings about writing—how can I fight the devil’s lies and deceptions and attempts to bind me—when I don’t know if You want me to do this? How can I combat these attacks with Your promises if I don’t know You’re fighting with me in this area? I’ve wanted to write and be published since I was a kid. Have wanted to write to please You. So many others have felt called by You—why don’t I feel like You ever called me?”

I didn’t expect an answer right away. Hadn’t I pleaded with Him countless other times and received silence in return? Maybe if I kept an open mind and continued to lift up this specific prayer over the next several weeks, I’d recognize His answer…if it ever came.

But that day, God met me in my need, and almost before the question left my lips—“Why don’t I feel like You ever called me?”—a calm, comforting, gentle voice whispered to my spirit.

“Because it was what you already wanted to do. I didn’t have to call you onto a path you were already traveling.”

Oh.

Really?

In my case, yes, really.

And it makes me wonder if other believers can resonate with this.

Often in Christian circles, we get so focused on finding our purpose, finding our calling, our gifts, how we should edify the Church…but for the person who searches for that answer with a pure motive and comes up empty, this quest can be extremely frustrating and lead to feelings of inadequacy.

If that’s you…could it be you might already be on His path for you? Pray about it. Test it. Press into Him with an open heart. And be ready for when He answers.

Yes, I will still have bad days, moments when Negativity wants to tear me down and immobilize me. But now I can resist those thoughts and Satan’s attacks. Now I know writing is something God has called me to do.

And that dream of becoming a published author before the age of 40? Well, I signed a contract with my publisher a month before I turned forty, and my debut novel releases two months before I turn forty-one.

God’s timing is always perfect. And in this case, I’m thankful my timing wasn’t too far off. 😉

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The Writer’s Desert

 

This past November, I traversed into new territory when I signed a publishing contract with Clean Reads. Setting my sights away from the sparkling, intoxicating metropolis of Accepted Manuscript, I ventured down an unfamiliar, inconspicuous path: The Second Book.

Funny thing about this path. The Second Book doesn’t take two authors in the same direction. Some find themselves in a thick jungle, wrapped in an overabundance of words, swathed in the heat of a luscious plot that can’t wait to be written. Others enter the succulent haven of a coffee shop, drawing inspiration from the lives unfolding around them, tears splashing onto plastic lids, laughter bubbling up toward the ceiling tiles.

Still others, alas, take a journey such as mine and step into the barren wasteland of the Writer’s Desert.

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Unlike an earthly desert, it stays cold here even during the day; the sun might shine, but it emits no warmth. The dry ground remains firm beneath my feet, unforgiving in its hard surface, wicking away what little optimism I had armed myself with when I first started this journey.

I thought I was prepared for it. I had my laptop for communication—you know, for those several rounds of edits expected from my publisher, and for that finicky thing called a platform I need to spend time thinking about. But more importantly, I had a canteen of liquid words—others’ words—that were supposed to keep my writing muscles limber and supple until I reached the other side of this empty landscape. Serving as one of several judges on a few writing contests. Swallow. Involvement with an online critique group. Gulp. Offering my help as a beta reader for two different manuscripts. Sip, sip, sip.

But while my muscles stay quenched with others’ words, my soul has become parched at the lack of my own.

Sure, I’ve come across an oasis now and then. Broad ideas for a new story here; a one-paragraph summary for another story over there. Scenes for a sequel to my book that releases in October. But for the majority of the time, it’s just me and my canteen of somebody else’s work.

Oh, and the devil.

He likes to come alongside me at those times when I’m stumbling across the sand and taunt me. Tell me I don’t have what it takes, because other authors—better authors—are thriving in the jungle and there’s a reason I’m stuck in the desert. Better authors are on book #20 after eleven years of writing, and I’m on book #2 after seventeen. Better authors always have ideas cooking on the back burner, and since I don’t, that just reaffirms I lack what it takes to be successful in this field. Better authors have better blogs, more followers, a larger platform, a stronger backbone, a more persistent nature.

Sometimes Jesus is able to edge the devil out of my peripheral vision. For a few moments of time, maybe even as long as a day, I breathe in His clarity. He’ll take my hand in his and with the other, he’ll point to the horizon, and whisper, “Do you see it?”sunset-1331088_1920 And with my flawed incompetence wrapped within His limitless capabilities, I glimpse something hazy on that horizon, something shimmering with promise and strength, purpose and fulfillment. And—

Then the devil shoves his snout in my face and I lose hold of my precious Jesus.

Why is Satan’s voice so much louder than my Lord’s?

Why does Hate have a better grip than Love? Why does self-deprecation feel more comfortable than self-confidence? Why are lies easier to believe than the truth?

The devil, I’ve come to realize, has been leading me in unnecessary circles to keep me floundering in this desert so I don’t gain the promise on that horizon. I reached a certain milestone despite his lies when I signed that publishing contract a few months ago, and he hates it. He knows my fundamental desire—once the selfishness and narcissism gets pushed aside—is to write for the Lord, whether that’s in the form of a Christmas fantasy or inspirational romance, so what better way to keep me from accomplishing anything further as a Christian writer than to blast my negative qualities on “repeat” in this desert that offers no diversion to silence the noise? Wallowing in negativity is a stronghold in which I practically have a doctorate, so long did I once study it.

Once. Several years ago. I’m not where I was several years ago, and the Lord certainly doesn’t want me making a U-turn to head back there.

So this time, I’m on to the devil. I’m on to his pranks, his condemnation and discouragement. It might have taken me a few months to slough through his deception, but better that than several years. I’m learning to tune him out again; to trust, instead, the voice of my precious Jesus, and to believe what He sees as good in me. I’m taking steps toward that shimmering horizon, and while I’m not there yet—I still have weeks of travel through these cold, hard-packed sands—the oases ahead of me look more abundant than those along the trail of my last four months.

I’m confident I’ll be filling my canteen with my own words soon.

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Yes.

No.

Wait.

When we go to God with a prayer request, we love to hear the first one, frown to hear the second one, but I think the most frustrating answer we receive sometimes is “Wait.”

Why, Lord?

For how long?

Pretty please, can’t I have [insert request here] now?

 

In the spring of 2015, Hubby and I found a track of land for sale in a gorgeous area of Jefferson County, about 20 minutes from Helena, MT. After prayerfully considering the risks, the pros and cons of purchasing the land, and the requirements that would go into creating our vision for the property*, we felt the Lord said, “Yes, purchase the land.” Yay! And yet…because of circumstances outside of our control, we didn’t close on the land until the very end of December. More than two months later than we were hoping to close.

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180 degree panoramic of our little slice of Montana.

 

“It’s okay,” Hubby kept reassuring me. “God’s got this. It’s all in His timing.”

Right. It was all good. We were still on target to building a new house on the land in the spring 2016, and getting the girls into a better, smaller school by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

Cut to April 2016, and still nothing had progressed. Well, baby steps, but nothing visible. Between work responsibilities and tax season, Hubby didn’t start making headway on our land project until May. We still held out hope we could start building a house in August and move into it halfway through the school year, so I was still going forward with the idea our girls would be switching schools. Thus, I wanted to find a rental property closer to the new school than where we were at the time, which meant the house needed to be put up for sale.

Then summer vacation came along, with an already-planned trip to MA in June to visit family. I was in no position to move before leaving for MA, and Hubby wasn’t about to move while the girls and I were in MA, so thoughts of putting the house on the market got bumped to late July.

Then August.

The first week in August for sure.

The goal came…and went. Still, I continued packing up the house, because I was determined to make the deadline of getting into a rental property before the start of the school year. For the sake of the girls’ education, right?

On August 10th, I called the realtor so we could sign papers and put the house on the market. We made an appointment to meet on Saturday, August 13th…but as Saturday drew closer, the more panicked Hubby and I became.

And then Hubby dropped the bomb Friday night: the builder had called earlier that day to say he couldn’t start on our house until March 2017.

Before you shake your head at our builder, bear in mind we hadn’t signed any papers, and building houses is his livelihood. We do not fault him for picking up other work. In fact, it reaffirmed what Hubby and I had begun to think ourselves—maybe we should wait until the spring to start building, since the land project was taking waaaay longer to finalize than we ever could have dreamed.

Of course, then my analytical side kicked in. Our original thinking in getting a rental had been to keep our girls from having to switch schools halfway through the year. But if we couldn’t start building a new house until March 2017, that was no longer a concern, since there was no way we’d be moving in until maybe late August next year. So…why were we working so hard to get out of our current house?

Huh.

Crap. Now what?

Pray.

So I called the realtor and postponed our meeting until the following weekend, leaving Hubby and I a week to come together in prayer each day and ask the Lord in which direction He wanted us to go. (Not that we weren’t praying on our own, but there’s something more potent about praying together.)

There were risks and fears either way we decided, but Hubby and I don’t like making decisions based off of fears, especially fears of the unknown, so in the end, based on what was before us, what was tangible, and knowing God was in our corner so we didn’t have to fear the unknown, we decided to…stay.

Sigh. Grumble grumble.

“Wait.”

That’s what we heard.

Wait on building the house.

Wait to put the girls in a different school.

Sit tight, focus on the other tasks at hand, and take this time to better prepare for the spring.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

During our week of prayer, my father-in-law had advised us not to move until we had complete peace about it. He echoed what I had been thinking. All the other times we’ve had to make big decisions, we’ve always had peace despite not knowing the end product or how insane our decision looked to others. Even when we bought the land, we had peace about the purchase. God had said, “Yes” to the land.

But apparently He’s saying, “Wait” before building our house on it.

The housing market is really good right now. Will it be better next year in the spring or summer…or worse? What will the economy look like next year after the November elections? What will the mortgage rates be? These are just a few of the things that were enticing us to sell now. Move now.

But God says wait. And He’s bigger than the economy or housing markets or mortgage rates. So despite any concerns for the future, despite any economist’s (or politician’s) projection on what 2017 will bring, our hope is in the Lord. He is our Rock. Our Sustainer. Our Comforter. It doesn’t necessarily mean circumstances will look better next year for selling our house, but we can rest in the knowledge we are currently staying on His path for our lives. And in the end, shouldn’t that be our goal?

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*More on our vision for the property in a future post.

Childhood dreams

To start things off, I want to give a huge shout out and “Thank you!” to my gracious and multi-talented friend, Ashley Martin, for helping me set up this blog/website. She’s an amazing author with her own blog: http://www.lemonbiscuitcrumbs.com/. It’s worth a look-see, especially if you enjoy literary fun and a quirky sense of humor.

In my “About” page, I touch upon one of my childhood dreams of living in France and how God had other plans for me. I’ve had one more significant dream ever since I learned to read: I wanted to become a published author…before the age of 40. That dream has yet to come true. And while I still have a few more years to go before my self-imposed deadline, it’s the main reason why I’ve started this blog/website. I’m not sure where it’s going to go, or even where it’s supposed to go (God is slowly teaching me to think in terms of twenty-four-hour increments rather than twenty-four-day increments), but I’ve called it Scattered Whimsy to allow me the freedom to share some of the other projects I turn to when my writing goes south. Which it does. All too often.

So, welcome to a little piece of my world and be sure to pop back in every once in a while to see how I’m faring on this, my latest adventure.

~Laurie Germaine